Columbia Presents Horwitz Prize to Three Scientists for Cancer Discoveries

January 10, 2020
Recipients of the 2019 Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize
Columbia University presented the 2019 Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize to Lewis C. Cantley, David M. Sabatini, and Peter K. Vogt in a ceremony on Jan. 9, 2020. From left: Anil K. Rustgi, director of the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center, Lewis C. Cantley, David M. Sabatini, Peter K. Vogt, and Lee Goldman, Dean of the Faculties of Health Sciences and Medicine and Chief Executive, Columbia University Irving Medical Center. Photo: Charles Manley.

Columbia University presented the 2019 Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize to three scientists for their contributions to cancer research in a ceremony on Jan. 9 in Low Library. The recipients of the prize were announced last September.

The three scientists are:

• Lewis C. Cantley, PhD, Weill Cornell Medicine and NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center, New York, New York

• David M. Sabatini, MD, PhD, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Chevy Chase, Maryland

• Peter K. Vogt, PhD, Scripps Research, La Jolla, California

They received the prize for their seminal contributions to the role of the phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) and mechanistic target for rapamycin (mTOR) pathways in physiology and oncogenesis.

Until the end of the 20th century, most cancer therapies worked by attacking replicating cells, an approach that devastated nearly as many normal cells as malignant ones. Discoveries of the processes that control the growth, division, and spread of cancer cells, and the signals that cause these cells to die naturally, gave rise to a new era of targeted therapies—drugs that focus on specific molecular targets associated only with cancer cells.

Among these discoveries was the finding that most cancers share a common thread: disruptions in phosphoinositide 3-kinases (PI3Ks), a family of signaling enzymes involved in maintaining a host of core cellular functions, including cell growth, differentiation, and proliferation.

Thanks to this insight, several anti-PI3K drugs have been approved for the treatment of some lymphomas, leukemias, and breast cancers, and many others are in various stages of development, including many in late-stage clinical trials.

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Columbia University has awarded the Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize for outstanding basic research in biology or biochemistry since 1967. The prize honors a scientific investigator, or group of investigators, whose contributions to knowledge in biology or biochemistry are deemed worthy of special recognition.

Visit the Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize website for more information and a list of past prize recipients.

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